Crimping Vs. Soldering For Cable Assemblies
Cable assemblies can be produced either with the aid of crimped connections or soldered connections. The type of desired connection type is merely a matter of choice. In general, the trade off is between speed and reliability. It is possible to achieve reliable connections in the least possible amount of time through soldering, yet it’s also possible to obtain connections that may be slightly more solid via soldering. Both mass production and custom production have preferred methods, and both of these connection styles have their strong points and their weaknesses.
From a manufacturing perspective, the goal is throughput while maintaining quality. That almost definitely means that factory-made cable assemblies are produced with crimped connections. Making these connections is a simple as fitting the connector pins over the wires and using a reliably determined amount of force every time so that all pin connections are solid. The typical user will find that these crimped connections are secure enough for typical purposes. Cables for electronics purposes should never be placed under high tension or any other type of stress or strain. This might cause connections to come loose or wire insulation jackets to crack.
For those who need custom cables instead of the stock cable assemblies, whether to use crimped or soldered connections is simply a matter of choice. The reason soldered connections typically are not used in production environments is because of the time it takes to make each connection. Soldering requires heating the two metal surfaces to be mated so that the solder melts. This process requires special attention to detail. During the soldering process the wire insulation jacket should not become so hot that some of it melts and becomes trapped between the individual strands of wire. Also, concluding the soldering process, the solder flux has to be cooked out of the connection to ensure a reliable connection. For those who are proficient in their soldering skills, reliable connections can be achieved that are just as good as or even better than the crimped connections.
Soldering may also be an attractive option for those who only wish to produce a small quantity custom cables. Depending upon the type of connection, some of these crimping tools can cost nearly as much as the cable if not more. A soldering iron can be used for numerous projects, which brings down the cost of this job and many others, depending upon the life of the iron and the number of tasks. The decision whether to use crimped connections or soldered connections does not make a significant difference with regard to the useful life of the cable.
From the standpoint of longevity, either type of connection should last for the life of the user. However, given that most wires are made from copper, the soldered connection might provide slightly better protection against the corrosion that occurs just from normal open air exposure. Realistically, any resulting corrosion is slight, usually amounting no more to a native layer of oxidation. From a process perspective, crimping will always be preferred as the number of controllable variables are significantly less than soldering.
The terminals are standardized and will accept either type of connection. Whether these are custom cables or standard factory made cables, they should connect the same. From the standpoint of making connections to the terminals there is no significant difference. Using one type of connection over the other is merely a choice to be made at the discretion of the user. Crimped connections can be faster to produce, though soldered connections may provide a slightly more solid connection. Since both are equally capable of performing the same function, the real concern should be for the individual cable wires. These wires should be protected against stresses and strains that may cause the insulation jacket to weaken and even break.